Vista Fire Burn Area

The October 24 Vista Fire burned approximately 85 acres near Casitas Springs and left hillsides adjacent to Highway 33 barren. Post fire conditions like the ones observed in this area are well known for their ability to produce rock and debris flows that are likely to impact homes and roadways.

In preparation for the winter season, Caltrans has pre-deployed k-rail barriers along the roadway to minimize nuisance flooding in the area. During significant rainfall events however, it is unlikely these barriers will be successful at stopping large amounts of mud and debris from flowing onto the roadway. During this time, motorists should be prepared for detours and delays that may impact their travel times.

The homes in the immediate area have been organized into divisions to enable public safety a method to effectively communicate plans and instructions to residents specific to their area. Additional details on potential threats to homes in the area have been outlined below:

Division A

  • Potential for flooding and debris within Division due to overtopping of the Fresno Canyon Debris Basin or channel east of Highway 33 during or following high intensity rainfall.
  • Potential for restricted or blocked access to Division from Highway 33, Sycamore Drive & Edison Drive during or shortly following rain events.

Division B

  • Threat of falling or flowing mud and rock into homes during or following rainfall especially with rainfall rates that exceed .25”/hr.
  • Rainfall rates of .50”/hr. or more may cause significant flooding and debris flows capable of causing residence structural damage and serious injury or death to inhabitants or persons in flow path.
  • Potential for restricted or blocked access on Highway 33 during or shortly following rain events.

Division Z

  • Threat of rock falling from slopes into homes or property.
  • Threat of falling mud and rock into homes during rainfall especially with rainfall rates that exceed .25”/hr.
  • Rainfall rates of .50”/hr. or more may cause significant flooding and debris flows capable of causing residence structural damage and serious injury or death to inhabitants or persons in flow path.
  • Potential for restricted or blocked access on Highway 33 during or shortly following rain events.

 

What to Expect from Public Safety

Before, during and after a rain event, representatives from the Ventura County Sheriff Office of Emergency Services with the assistance of numerous other agencies and experts will be monitoring weather forecasts and observed conditions for potential impact to the area.

In the event a forecast is issued that may result in adverse conditions for Divisions A, B or Z, detailed information will be sent out to residents utilizing the VC Alert Emergency Notification System. Residents are highly encouraged to register for this system by visiting vcalert.org. It is also recommended that residents remain vigilant  and maintain constant situational awareness on changing conditions. Changes in the stability of the debris may occur rapidly and without notice therefore heightened awareness must be exercised.

 

Emergency Evacuation Orders & Sheltering

Evacuation orders may be broken into two categories – Voluntary & Mandatory.

Mandatory Evacuation

Mandatory Evacuation Orders may be initiated by law enforcement, Fire Departments, Public Health Agencies, and in rare cases some federal agencies when residents are requested to vacate the area due to an imminent threat. All non-essential persons are requested to leave the area immediately.

  • Conditions exist that SERIOUSLY IMPERIL or ENDANGER the lives of those in the defined area.
  • The danger is IMMINENT!
  • Generally, residents will not be forcibly removed from their own property however those found to be on public property including roadways and public parks may be subject to removal from the area.
  • Once out of the area, the general public (including residents) will not be permitted to return until conditions permit.
  • Any non-essential persons found by officials traveling through, or loitering in, the area will be escorted out and not permitted to re-enter the area. Those found to be interfering with the disaster response are SUBJECT TO ARREST.

Voluntary Evacuation

Voluntary Evacuations may be initiated by law enforcement, Fire Departments, Public Health Agencies, and in rare cases federal agencies. Voluntary Evacuation orders are issued when residents should begin preparing for a potential mandatory evacuation order to be issued. Access to the area under a voluntary evacuation order may or may not restricted by a soft or hard closure.

  • The threat to lives is NOT YET IMMINENT.
  • Due to the potential for rapidly changing conditions to develop into a serious threat, residents are advised to prepare for the issuance of an evacuation order.
  • Residents should prepare personal belongings including pets and livestock for evacuation.
  • Advance measures should be taken to prevent harm to individuals with mobility issues or other types of access and functional needs.

Should a mandatory evacuation order be issued for your area, a Red Cross evacuation shelter will be activated and residents affected by the order may seek free temporary shelter and assistance at this location.

Alternate Travel Routes

During a closure of Highway 33 between Casitas Vista Rd and Nye Road, Santa Ana Road will serve as the alternate route to bypass the closure area. Due to its location, this area is also prone to flooding and may not be available. In this case, motorists will likely need to take Highway 150 from the City of Santa Paula into Ojai.

Staying Informed – 2 Important Steps!

Step 1

In an effort to the keep residents informed with up to the minute information on closures impacting highway 33, local authorities have established a text notification service to provide motorists the most up to the minute information via text message. To subscribe to this notification service text the word VISTA to 888777 and you will be subscribed to the notification group. This service is free of charge however standard text messaging rates do apply.

Step 2

Residents are also encouraged to sign up for VC Alert, Ventura County’s Emergency Notification System. In the event an emergency incident requires residents to evacuate, take shelter or follow specific instructions, public safety officials will use this system to notify residents in a timely manner. The system is capable calling multiple cellular & landline telephones, emailing & text messaging. The service is offered free of charge and is available by visiting vcalert.org